The Persuasive Power of Feelings vs. Facts

This is what I am learning about human nature, belief systems and neuropsychology . When a person has his or her beliefs cemented in place with reinforcement of the emotions – objectivity and facts are no longer relevant.

When that belief involves choosing sides and being part of a team or “group think”, certain psychological make-ups will choose team over logic, facts and data every time. When people are in the clutches of such mental strongholds and shown facts which dispute their belief on any particular topic, they will display a flight or fight response. Emotions will triumph over logic or reason and “truth” becomes an actual adversary which must be repudiated at all costs.

This ability to suspend logic and go with “what one feels to be true” is why there are flat earthers, science deniers and political or religious cultic beliefs based in conspiracy not actual facts. When study participants are asked why they hold to a particular belief even when they are shown facts to the contrary, they simply reply, “because that is just how I feel about it.”

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This my dear friends is where we are today. Those who believe the moon landing was a hoax or Obama is actually a Muslim born in Africa or that our own government planted explosives underneath the World Trade Center to help bring it down . . . can vote for our leaders or actually become President of the United States.

Lovers and seekers of truth, facts, logical reasoning, objectivity and science must stand strong and not grow weary. While it can be exhausting when truth is under assault every day, we must resist apathy and complacency. It is so tempting to want to tune out and get away from it all for self-protection, peace and sanity. And I totally understand that choice. But for some reason, I find myself compelled to stay in there and reach for higher ground.

These days, what brings me peace is knowing that there are more of us who value facts and truth over myths and beliefs. At least, that is what I am telling myself. And at that twist of irony, I will choose to lol.

Obama and the Paradox of Faith and Mistrust

“Why do you love Trump?” I asked my Christian friend. “Because he says it like it is, doesn’t care what anyone thinks” she said. “But you hate Obama, can you tell me why,” I ask, trying to get clarity. “Because Obama, in my opinion, was a snake, saying one thing but secretly believing something else,” she admits.

Hmmm. At that moment I realize I have nowhere to go. The belief is set in the psyche, hardwired and backed up with emotions. But why?

So, I muse.

He declared with his mouth that Jesus Christ was his savior. But some believers who share that same faith – said he was lying and that his declaration of faith was a “ruse” to cover the fact that he was “secretly” a Muslim hell bent on destroying our country and ushering in Sharia law and taking away everyone’s guns.

We’re still here – fully armed – he’s still a Christian, living in faith and loving his family and praying for America.

I watched as he stood up in front of a church in mourning in South Carolina and slowly, with deep emotion began to sing Amazing Grace – some Christians watched and believed he was “acting” and again pronounced that our president was a Muslim and some went so far as to call him the anti-Christ.

We’re still here – Armageddon not yet – and if he is the anti-Christ he must be waiting for a more suitable power appointment than leader of the free world to declare his reign.

A few months ago – on my very own newsfeed – an acquaintance shared a meme filled with so much vile hatred, it shot an arrow of pain through my heart. It read – good riddance to these two despicable people – showing a picture of the Obamas boarding Marine One. The very first comment underneath – a person said he hoped they would hang from a tree. This broke my heart and literally made me sick to my stomach. It is something I will never understand.

On Inauguration Day, we were here – watching him greet the new president and first lady with graciousness and warmth, kissing his wife’s hand as they took their seats and extending a hug and kiss to Senator Dole and his wife. (still acting?)

Still feel hate for him and believe he is not a Christian?

HERE are President Obama’s ACTUAL WORDS from the National Prayer breakfast from Feb. 2016 – he wasn’t reading – he was speaking from his heart. (his speech is available on YouTube)

“For me, and I know for so many of you, faith is a great cure for fear,” he said. “Jesus is a good cure for fear.” “Like every president, like every leader, like every person, I’ve known fear,” Obama said.
“But my faith tells me that I need not fear death, that acceptance of Christ promises everlasting life and the washing away of sins.”
“I pray that our leaders will always act with humility and generosity,” he said.

AND TODAY – I read on a Christian pastor’s FB page – Trump has brought God back into the White House. Apparently insinuating that God took leave for 8 years, was nowhere to be found because that is God’s habit to abandon those who are praying for wisdom and guidance.

AND . . .don’t get me wrong . . .I am hoping God has Trump’s back as I have always prayed for all our Presidents.

So what are we to do? Where do we go from here? What motivates someone to want to believe in hidden deviance? How did we get to this point where voting your conscience and coming together as a people is booed? Why are folks who quote the bible and call themselves Christians filled with so much hatred for a man who has only spoken words of unity and faith and displayed actions of compassion, calm, love for his wife and family and country, for babies, children, furry friends . . etc. who ends every speech even after singing Happy Birthday to his daughter with “God Bless America”. And yet – so many people HATE who he was, who he is, as some have told me . . . the very sight of him. But when I ask why? I get . . .I don’t know . . .I just do. . .or even better “because he hates America”.

These are puzzle pieces I’m convinced I will never be able to connect. I am slowly coming to the realization that WE BELIEVE what we WANT to believe. WE HEAR what we want to hear . . .WE SHUT OUT what we don’t want to see and if we believe that the government was behind 9/11 . . .that man never walked on the moon . . .that Obama was born in Africa and is secretly a Muslim . . .that the illuminati controls powerful people behind the scenes in a hidden dark room somewhere deep in the inner recesses of Washington and no CIA agent or crazy reporter has ever wanted to expose it . . .

I digress.

We’re still here. A nation of immigrants, of many faiths and beliefs, diversity of opinions and experiences, cultures and truths.

Praying that we continue to cling to HOPE, LOVE and believe in the goodness of one another and that we the people always, always LOOK for the positive until someone gives us a reason to believe otherwise.

And in the meantime – I will continue to feel only gratitude for our first African American President and his lovely wife – for serving our country with class, dignity, integrity, graciousness, eloquence and most definitely love.

 

 

The Blame Game Cycle of Insanity and Fear

 

If one’s first IMPULSE after seeing black NFL football players kneel in protest is MORAL OUTRAGE and one’s first response is to take ACTION by boycotting the NFL because these “spoiled, affluent, disrespectful” athletes dare to use their platform to express their pain and show “disrespect for our flag”
BUT . . .
after SEEING teenagers running for their lives with their hands in the air and then HEARING that 15 kids and 2 teachers were slaughtered by a young, very disturbed man brandishing an AR-15 military style weapon and one’s first IMPULSE is NOT moral outrage over the easy access and availability of these weapons but DEFENSIVE POSTURING and FINGER POINTING to point the blame to everything and everyone else but the fact that every mass shooter uses this type of weapon . . .
AND . . .
then one’s first response is to take ACTION by going out and buying every gun one can afford because of FEAR that one’s very own beloved United States of America government . . .that country we so LOVE . . .that very same one represented by that very same flag we so revere that it motivates one to boycott sports . . .so viscerally scared that THIS AMERICA is going to suddenly revolt and come after us and take away our second amendment rights and the military men who die for the right for us to defend ourselves are suddenly going to turn into apocalyptic mindless robots and break down the doors of our homes and confiscate our guns . . .
Then I agree!
We don’t just have a gun problem, we have a MENTAL ILLNESS problem.
If the voice of deep seeded FEAR and PARANOIA is always there to shout down the voice of REASON and COMMON SENSE . . .
Then I agree!
We have a CULTURE problem. We have those who propagate a culture of paranoia, who peddle in fear and conspiracy theories . . .FEAR of the media, the left-wing liberal’s evil agenda and the empirical and ever illusive “they” as spoken by Wayne LaPierre of the NRA . . .
“If they seize power … our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever,” he said. “The first to go will be the Second Amendment.”
Question: What is the cause of mass shootings in America?
A. It’s a Mental Illness problem
B. It’s a Culture of Violence problem
C. It’s an Easy Access to Automatic Weapons problem
D. ALL OF THE ABOVE
The answer of course is D. and until we ALL ARE WILLING to admit that it is complicated and begin to discuss it without pointing blame across the aisle . . .
sadly, we will continue to be first in the world in annual mass shootings. And that is definitely not winning.

Let’s make”The Greater Good” Great Again!

We live in a time when LOGIC is easily suspended, FACTS (which aren’t convenient) are countered with alternative facts, the voice of REASON is shouted down when it doesn’t fit the narrative, OBJECTIVITY is rejected and INDEPENDENT thinking is now labeled “elitist”.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2TrXxSlvFo

Why? How did we get here? When did we become so INTOLERANT of a different point of view and the freedom and right to express it? Why such hatred, disdain and loathing for all things “not like me”?
It is because Americans have become TRIBAL.
TRIBALISM is winning and definitely not making anything “great again” other than the spirit that fuels it. It is driven by the extremists on both sides of the fence and demands you take sides. And when allegiance to a tribe is revered above all – our capacity to listen to one another with an open honest mind and heart is greatly diminished.
There is no middle ground, no compromise, no ability to serve the greater good with the higher goal of uplifting all of humanity.
Tribalism demands loyalty, blind trust, complete and utter adherence to whatever the tribe declares the truth to be. If you dare to STAND up for what you believe in, even if you have been a loyal, lifelong, faithful member of the tribe – you are at risk of being labeled a traitor to the cause. You are the enemy and must be excommunicated.
Where are the REASONABLE minds that MUST prevail? Where is the love your neighbor as yourself mentality? Where is the “judge not lest ye be judged” idealism? Where is “America the Beautiful” inspiration? Where is the “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” spirit of patriotism?
Finally, where is common DECENCY?
If democracy is going to survive, we are going to have to find it again and place more VALUE on the beauty of our UNION than the DEVOTION to our chosen tribe.
LOVE must win again. HOPE must prevail. LIGHT must overcome the darkness. And all of it begins with me and you.

A Few Good Men? Ladies, “You CAN Handle the Truth”!

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Do you continually fall for the same type of guy? You know, that really hot guy who “had you at hello” . . .the very one who suddenly quit texting you after several romantic nights together and left you crying in your Cosmo while your loyal girlfriends rallied to  your side and assured you he was indeed a total a-hole . . . Hold on! Before you succumb to the belief that “all men are pigs” and there is not one good one left . . .relax, take a deep breath and hit the reset button. You don’t have to give up on the whole male population but you may have to readjust your radar.

Here’s the Deal . . .

Assumption: You are a healthy, single, heterosexual woman. Therefore, it is no surprise you may have fallen for a few Prince Charming’s in your life – only to find out you lost your heart to Sir Suxalot yet again! And yes, it really does suck a lot. Because you, like every other chick-flick loving female, have had an image of the perfect man embedded in your brain since you hooked-up Barbie and Ken, danced around in your princess dress and pretended you were Ariel…or Jasmine or…I think you get the point. The quest to find Mr. Right, fall in love and live happily ever after is, after all, part of your DNA. “Someday, my prince will come….”  Thank you Walt Disney!

Unfortunately, boys didn’t get the same memo. While you were all rainbows and unicorns, he was all match box cars, transformers and plastic green army men. With GI Joe in hand, he made rude sounds and shot bad guys while he rolled around in the blood and the guts and the….stuff. That is until his Spring Awakening – the very moment when his voice got lower and your chest got bigger. One sight of your newly acquired assets…with zero remorse, GI Joe and his brave men got heartlessly kicked to the curb (long after you had carefully, lovingly stored your Barbie dolls away for you future daughter). At this very same time  a new discovery of a much cooler toy, completely assembled and permanently within hand’s reach – was all the “playtime” he needed. Like you, he began to live in a fantasy world. Unlike you, his head was only filled with one image playing over and over again 24/7 pretty much for the rest of his existence. Thank you testosterone!

Here’s the 411 . . .

Despite what you have told yourself, all the “good ones” are NOT taken. There are plenty of awesome guys out there who are both manly and sensitive to a woman’s needs, handsome but yet naively humble, gracious but intuitively strong, funny yet possessing depth, etc.  The problem is you may not readily see them because your “good guy radar” is short circuited by what you think is your ideal type – which turns out may not be so ideal. Thank you Hollywood!

So how do you go about changing your Sir Suxalot attraction? Firstly, you must identify what it is that you repeatedly and of course, naturally go for? Obviously for both sexes, initial physical chemistry plays a huge role in what attracts us to one another. Which makes infatuation such a powerful force, it can easily overpower our critical thinking and even our gut instincts when choosing to go deeper into a relationship. Somewhere between the electric charge that sweeps you off your feet and the unhappy ending are all the huge flashing, warning signs. The good news is losers will always show their true colors no matter how charming they seem in the beginning. Here are just a few signs you are heading for another train wreck:  if he starts to make you feel like your feelings don’t matter, if he controls every decision about date nights,  if he over exaggerates his accomplishments, if he is selfish with his time, if he doesn’t introduce you to his best friends, if he always walks a few steps ahead of you, etc. – you are at best falling for another jerk or even worse, a narcissist. For more signs and warnings check out his article: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-relationships/dating-a-narcissist

In a Nutshell. . .

So let’s recap. Being a woman you are pre-wired for romance and the “feeling” of falling in love which makes you particularly susceptible to the kind of guy who seeks to manipulate your DNA for his own selfish needs. Nice guys have the same sexual wiring as the jerk dude – they are just more evolved and therefore more in touch with both their own emotional needs as well as yours.

However, according to Eric Marc Katz, dating coach and author of the highly popular Blog – Evan Marc Katz | Understand Men. Find Love., there are a few things you MUST understand about men before you can have the successful relationship you are seeking. Here’s a quote from one of his recent posts.

“Men live in the moment. We look for sex and find love. Just because we think you’re attractive and we show you a good time doesn’t mean we’re actually INTERESTED. Essentially, men fall for you during the process of pursuing sex with you. Which means that if you have sex before you get into a relationship with him, you’re taking a predictably high risk that things aren’t going to work out.”

Okay, let’s assume Eric speaks for all men – even the “good guy” you are hoping to find. According to Katz, from the guy’s perspective, it’s giving up the keys to your “magic kingdom” too soon that could possibly derail the love monorail before it is even out of the station. Which makes a lot of sense because in their basest reptilian brain, sex is the goal. So, if they don’t have to spend any time to get to know you to achieve that goal, they will indeed take what you are offering and move on to the next more intriguing conquest. However, as long as you keep him at arm’s distance, so to speak, he will continue to be intrigued.

Good news! This delay of game, places the ball squarely in your court! But, before you serve up your next volley – it is imperative that you ask yourself this question: What are your non-negotiables? . . .as in “must love kids”, “must have a great sense of humor”, “must be college educated . . .etc.” Once you have fully examined your heart and mind and feel confident that you know your “must haves”, proceed with eyes wide open (with the understanding that settling for less will most likely lead to future disappointment).  Only when and if he passes your non-negotiables challenge should you allow him to move on to the next round of the ever crucial “ideal mate” vetting process – which includes passing the girlfriend test, your guy friend’s test, the pet test, the baby test, etc.

So, there you have it! The truth about the ideal “Man of Your Dreams” and the actual real man who will finally possess your heart, ultimately comes down to the potent combination of 1) gaining a deep understanding of the male species and  2) truly knowing yourself and what qualities you are seeking in a man.  Just like thunder naturally follows a lightning strike – rest assured your “good guy radar” will fully kick in once you have learned to value yourself and treasure your most sought after prized possession more than you do the instant gratification of wielding its mystical power over another unevolved man.

Now that you are aware of the mating habits of the Neanderthal and can easily spot him in  his natural habitat – the unequivocal potency of your strength and confidence will act as a strong repellent to his type. Simultaneously, the fog will lift and the good guys will come into view. You will know him – he’s the guy you didn’t see immediately, but he saw you and waited for the perfect moment to approach. He’s the guy who is intrigued by your smile, your laugh, the way you hold your glass . . .he is the guy who is willing to wait for all the rest in order to discover your intellect, your heart, your inner beauty, while being completely intoxicated by your outer beauty. He is the one your dog, your mom, your girlfriends, your friend’s baby and everyone else who has your back will naturally love – for one reason – he will value the same qualities about you as they do!

CHERISH is the WORD . . .

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In the arena of love and marriage, one of the major contributors to discord is the inability to communicate in a calm, rational, non-accusatory fashion. For most couples, it takes several years of navigating the choppy seas of difference of personalities, viewpoints, priorities and lifestyles, before it’s all smooth sailing. Sadly, some folks never reach that island of harmony where rational minds prevail and love is watered daily…instead they wake up to find their relationship…shipwrecked.

If one could take the opportunity to dissect the anatomy of an argument, it might be quite surprising to see how often it has nothing to do with “what” you say, but rather “how” you say it that sets off the smoke alarm.

Tone and inflection (whether intended or not) can unfortunately transform a mundane question such as, “did you remember to unload the dishwasher?” into an explosive emotional grenade setting off a full-blown argument. I’m sure it was these type of seemingly stupid little “dropped bombs” that was the inspiration for Pat Benatar’s big hit, “Love Is A Battlefield”.7647176[1]

There are so many ways we can inflect our voice. Think about it. We can say pretty much anything  in a way that implies that the other person is stupid or inept, simply by making a punctuated exhalation sound…showing we are annoyed or exasperated. Combine that with “the rolling of the eyes” and you have a problem in the making.  The dishwasher comment can be delivered in a way that is accusatory…as in, “OMG did you seriously forget to put the frigging dishes up again?” The problem is, when daily interaction is habitually filled with negative tones and accusatory voice inflections, it can take a very damaging toll on any relationship.

It is so easy to recognize these kind of demeaning tones and negative interactions when observing our children. As parents, we are so quick to jump in and correct…”Michael..don’t talk to your sister that way…that is totally unacceptable! Now, say you’re sorry…etc.” But for some strange reason, we adults are much slower to recognize it in ourselves or to point it out in our spouses before the damage is done and a relatively minor exchange becomes an emotionally charged duel of words.

In contrast, there is a way that “love” speaks. Like anything, it requires commitment and practice to become natural at it. But with both, couples can learn to cut off their negative tones and learn to speak to each other in a loving and respectful manner. No matter what the actual “words” are, if we are conscientious about how we are speaking them, our interaction can take place on a much higher level. Even, a simple word like “sweetie” can be inserted in front of a phrase and the listener can receive it in a much more positive way. For example, “sweetie, I was wondering if you had208315_2014038227442_4762824_n[1] the chance to unload the dishwasher yet….”

In order to have a thriving, robust relationship – with awareness and practice, we can choose on a daily basis to break the bad habit of speaking with demeaning, negative and disrespectful tones. It is just one more key to a successful love-filled life together!

 

In Search of Happiness

   imagesCA4WYXBXApparently in this world, there is a treasure sought after by man that is more precious and desirable than gold but as elusive and unattainable as the Holy Grail. I’m speaking of “happiness”. Just take a stroll down the self-help aisle at Barnes and Noble and you will be blown away with the seemingly endless plethora of “How To” books on the subject. To underscore my point, I just typed in the words “finding happiness” in the search bar in the book section of Amazon.com., which resulted in 5,140 results – amazing, right?

Here are just a few of the titles: 21 Ways to Finding Peace and Happiness, The Happiness Solution, How to Be Happy, When Am I Going to Be Happy…and so on, just make up a title and I’m sure you can find it on a book shelf.

So what is going on? Has this been part of the human condition since the beginning of our existence? Has “happiness” always been a pipe dream? Am I happy? And what does that really mean to me anyway…hmmm.imagesCA02VTN3

Upon deeper reflection, I believe that happiness isn’t so much a state of being as it is an emotional reaction to my surroundings. In other words, when I hold a newborn baby, see a hummingbird land on my feeder or experience any number of life’s simple joys, I get a feeling or sensation that I have come to equate with “happiness”. However, I can walk in the house and turn on the news and hear about a mass shooting and quickly be overcome with emotions of sadness. So, in my experience, happiness is more of a fleeting emotion that comes and goes throughout thappiness-quote[1]he day and is in direct correlation to external stimuli.

People often ask me, “are you always this happy”? And of course, the answer is “no”. I have emotional ups and downs just like everyone else.  So what are they really asking? I think maybe what they are observing is that I am generally “content”. Now, contentment to me is a state of being that is with me whether I am sorrowful over a loss of a loved one, or rejoicing with a newly married couple. In my experience, contentment is static and is not related to my emotional ups and downs. So have I learned to be content or am I just wired that way? I suppose upon further analysis, the answer would be a little bit of both.

What do you think? How do you define yourself when it comes to “happiness” or “contentment”?images[2]

I’m excited to read your comments. Click on the “Leave A Comment” icon below to join the discussion!